Taib ‘the devil I know’, says Sarawak BN leader

By Shannon Teoh
March 24, 2011

Taib became chief minister in 1981. — file pic

PETALING JAYA, March 24 — Despite widespread allegations of corruption against Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, a Sarawak deputy federal minister said last night the chief minister would still be an asset in next month’s polls.

“Despite allegations against him, I don’t know if the next can be better than him. I’d rather the devil I know,” said Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum.

The deputy minister for information communication and culture insisted that Taib, who will celebrate 30 years as Sarawak chief minister on Saturday, was still important to the state Barisan Nasional (BN). The Parti Rakyat Sarawak vice president said Taib has done well in governing the state and Sarawak BN would like him to continue.

Salang said that Taib’s intention to step down after the April 16 state polls would not be a factor for the Sarawak electorate of nearly a million voters.

“Sarawak BN thinks he is an asset and he should lead the battle. But we cannot stop him from growing old,” said the Julau MP.

Taib had made the announcement just prior to Monday’s dissolution of the state assembly, said to be under pressure from BN who see him as a potential liability due to constant allegations of graft and abuses.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has also said in the past that he wants to blood younger leaders in BN.

Before the state assembly was dissolved, BN held 63 of the 71 seats in the state, although the state opposition is confident of making gains in next month’s election.

Salang also said last night the claims of corruption and native customary rights (NCR) land grabs against Taib were unproven.

“Maybe he lives more lavishly than his colleagues but it is not a sin to make money. He started investing very early in his life,” he said.

He said the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president had only given out tracts of land to develop the state’s economy.

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